Warning Signs and Practical Help for Stress Overload

Ask someone how they’re doing. The common response:

“I’m good, thanks!”

Here’s the more candid version I’m hearing these days.

I think I’m pretty good, but I’m not really sure. Honestly, I don’t know.”

That’s an honest answer.

It’s an answer of a leader who may be on stress overload.

It could be someone in your family or a leader you are developing.

Or you.

It will soon be half a year since the coronavirus invaded our lives.

Overall, I think most are doing well under the circumstances, but cracks are beginning to appear as people are hitting their limits.

We need to learn how to handle a new level of sustainability in terms of:

  • Unanswered questions
  • Unresolved problems, and
  • Unknown future

Sustained unanswered, unresolved, and unknown.

That’s the new overload.

It’s been building up in all of us for over five months.


Fear, Worry, Anxiety, Anger, Frustration, Depression…

Some leaders are reaching breakpoints, others are holding up pretty well everything considered.

But no one completely eludes the effects of this season.

One person said it this way describing a family member: “He’s really mad – but doesn’t know who to be mad at.”

That sums it up well.

It’s a moving target that changes weekly.

Health, finances, emotions, career, future, and now it’s impacting relationships.

Why is it that some people are dealing with all this craziness better than others?

  • Some entered this season with more emotional reserves in their soul.
  • Others live and lead in healthier environments.
  • Others still have determined to find the good rather than get stuck in the negative.

We’re all different, but there are several things in common.

Let’s start with some warning signs.

4 warning signs of stress overload:

(None of these are healthy or helpful.)

1) Escapism

Entertainment, imagination, and just “unplugging” for a few hours is good, but not if it’s a consistent escape from difficult realities.

When a leader behaves as if everything is fine when everyone knows it’s not, they lose credibility.

That leader knows there are significant problems to be faced and solved, but they pretend as if it will all get better soon by itself as a way to handle the overload of pressure.

It’s an understandable coping mechanism, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

Only when you and I face reality head-on can we begin to wrestle down an honest and healthy resolution to our internal overload.

2) Antagonism

An antagonistic disposition often starts from prolonged frustration, moves to anger, and eventually resentment.

When anger finds its way to the surface, it can make itself known in very destructive ways.

If you find yourself moving from conversations to debates, be careful. Debates by nature require a winner and a loser. Debates require someone to be right and someone to be wrong. In contrast, a conversation gives space to disagree and learn.

Social media is a common arena for battle that results in unnecessary division. The sad thing is that so many times, it’s between people who don’t even know each other, but both are hurting.

Lashing out never solves issues of anger, hurt or fear. Listening, conversation, and understanding that leads to real solutions helps to resolve stress overload.

Refocusing the energy of anger toward solutions is a healthy step in the right direction.

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Source: Church Leaders